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Embracing technology in the construction industry

A person working in a construction site

Technology has driven transformational changes in the construction industry in recent years. In the past, construction projects relied entirely on manual labour, and managers depended on paperwork, phone calls, and visits to the job site to plan and supervise progress. Visibility was limited, reporting was slow, and projects were plagued by miscommunication and unexpected delays. However, innovative technologies are changing the industry, offering ways to speed up construction processes significantly.

The most tangible improvements can be seen in the use of heavy equipment and machinery at construction sites. These innovations have revolutionised the way structures are built, not only boosting the pace of development but also enhancing precision and safety to make construction sites more efficient and secure.

New technologies and software platforms have also helped streamline the backend operations of construction projects. While less visible than equipment in the field, these solutions have had an equally powerful impact on the industry, leading to a substantial increase in overall efficiency.

This blog will focus on technological advancements in the construction sector, covering both tangible technological innovations and various software solutions that are essential for the industry.

Innovations in building equipment and machinery

Over the last few decades, the industry has seen a surge in inventions aimed at reducing construction risks. From the introduction of drones to remote-controlled machinery, these cutting-edge technologies have redefined how construction projects are executed. Drones, for instance, have become useful for inspecting hazardous conditions, enhancing safety, and providing a bird's-eye view of construction sites. 

Meanwhile, machinery such as concrete crushers and remote-controlled excavators have been a boon, not only speeding up processes but also significantly reducing the physical strain on human workers. The industry is also making steady progress in adopting sustainable building materials, aligning with the global effort for more environmentally friendly economic development. All these technological advancements are shaping a brighter future for the construction sector.

Digitisation of the construction industry

Today, many traditional construction processes are simplified through digital technologies that improve efficiency, communication, and overall project management. The software systems necessary for a construction company can vary depending on the type and scale of projects they work on. Many companies specialise in a specific niche, such as residential, commercial, or industrial buildings, or heavy civil engineering projects like roads, bridges, and waste systems.

Project management information systems (PMIS) 

Building or renovating a structure involves a great deal of work. From planning and materials procurement to finding tradespeople and fixing schedules, everything must align precisely to ensure the project progresses as planned. Even a minor setback during this process can lead to delays, thereby directly increasing costs. This is where the value of project management software becomes clear. 

A 2021 global construction survey conducted by KPMG found that 45% of respondents, including project owners, and engineering and construction companies, believe integrated PMIS has the potential to deliver the most significant overall return on investment to their organisations. 

A construction project management solution helps keep all your projects organised from start to finish. It presents a clear roadmap for the team to understand their responsibilities, be accountable for their performance, and stay informed about overall progress. Whether it's managing approvals, tracking plan revisions, or handling task rescheduling and overlaps, a project management solution simplifies these processes to keep everyone on track.

Learn more about how a project management solution can help your business.

Building information modelling (BIM) software

In the past, blueprints and drawings were the primary means of conveying building plans. This was followed by computer-aided design (CAD), which added more realistic representations to blueprints. However, lately, BIM software has gained prominence for offering a wide range of benefits. In the same global construction survey by KPMG, BIM tools ranked second in terms of their potential to deliver the greatest overall return on investment. 

BIM provides advanced visualisation through 3D modelling, allowing project teams to envision the project before construction begins. This aids in detecting potential issues and making informed design decisions to prevent costly setbacks. BIM also facilitates visualising the final outcome of a project to help architects, engineers, contractors, and other construction professionals collaborate using a 3D model. 

Contract management software

Contract management software is a valuable asset to the construction industry, as it simplifies contract handling for all involved parties. In complex construction projects with numerous stakeholders, getting everyone together in person to analyse and sign contracts can be a significant challenge. However, contract management software provides a clear system for tracking real-time changes and modifications, like updates to building approvals or shifts in project requirements. It also automatically alerts the right people about these changes, ensuring that no crucial steps are overlooked. 

Having a single, user-friendly interface to oversee the entire contract lifecycle helps builders and project owners quickly review contracts, keep tabs on alterations, and maintain a comprehensive digital record of all changes. This ensures that everyone working on the project is on the same page.

Financial management software

In an industry where time is money, it is crucial to stay vigilant about expenses. Using good financial management software can help by giving appropriate stakeholders access to real-time financial data and detailed reports. This is especially important for complex projects where you're on a tight budget. 

Having a comprehensive financial suite can help manage various financial aspects of construction projects, including expense management and reporting, payroll, and sending quotes and invoices, to maintain complete visibility and control.

Risk and safety management software

In the construction industry, where workers constantly face the risk of injuries or even death, safety management software is becoming a huge asset. Many construction companies are now adopting technology to reduce the risk of such incidents by identifying potential hazards at construction sites. 

This software helps companies assess risks, track and manage safety incidents, and comply with health and safety regulations. It can also help improve relevant communication between workers and management and simplify the documentation of safety procedures and incidents. This can be critical for insurance claims and legal purposes and help protect you from costly fines. You can choose risk management software that integrates with a learning management system (LMS) to help ensure that all employees receive appropriate training related to risk mitigation and safety protocols.

Supply chain management

Supply chain management software plays a crucial role in helping businesses effectively plan and monitor their supply chain operations in the face of economic disruptions. From identifying trends to tracking market fluctuations, it can provide real-time visibility into various aspects of your supply chain. This minimises the risk of running out of materials or overstocking, both of which can lead to unnecessary costs and dissatisfied customers. Being aware of market trends can also help your business negotiate better rates with suppliers based on demand, and improve transportation efficiency.

We hope this blog gives you an overview of useful technologies in the construction sector and how you can use them for your business. Are there any specific topics you'd like us to cover in future blogs? Let us know in the comments below.

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